How fun! It’s a #JustPictureThisIllustratorInterview with author – illustrator, Matt B Lewis! Let’s get to know a bit more about Matt! 🙂
How did you come to be an illustrator, and what do you like about illustrating for children?
I am a self-taught illustrator and have pretty much always drawn something every day, doodles, cartoons, comic’s even 2D animation… I guess it was when my daughter was two years old she said ‘there are monsters in my garden’ I thought it sounded like a good kids book and that began the journey into writing and illustrating kids books. I love everything about illustrating for kids from teaching foundational illustration techniques through to the silly and often non-scientific representations of how kids think. I am still a big kid at heart so it suits my mentality.
Who are your favourite artists or book illustrators that have made an impact on you as an artist? In what way have they influenced you?
Graeme Base is my all-time favourite kid’s book illustrator. Not only is he a superb writer but his level of illustration is masterful.
He doesn’t just illustrate the story, every illustration has layers, whether it is hidden animals or artefacts, through to counting up or counting down, secret messages etc.. Again he is the true master.
His level of detail and colour still amazes me and gives me something to aspire to.
Please tell us about your latest projects. Do you have any recent publications?
My latest project is a picture book called ‘A Killer Whale can’t eat Kale’ that lets kids know that it’s ok and even fun sometimes to eat healthy food. This fun and engaging story has been road tested with several year one classes with great success and aligns to the curriculum on ‘Healthy Eating’. Written in snappy rhyme it has kids giggling and laughing all the way to the end (but watch out, there’s a twist).
The story centres on Doug, he loves eating kale, there’s only one problem, Doug is a Killer Whale and his friends don’t like him eating all that healthy stuff. Follow along as Doug tries to save various sea creatures from becoming dinner for his friends, by offering healthy alternatives.
The last page in the book is a fact sheet on ORCAS (Killer whales) which the kids find fascinating.
What projects are you currently working on?
I am currently working on a kid’s book series called ‘Simon Says’. Where Simon is a Platypus.
‘Simon Says -30 Minutes a day PLAY,PLAY,PLAY’ is the first in the series – all about encouraging kids to do some form of physical activity every day – it doesn’t have to be ‘EXERCISE’ but any form of movement – it will have fun illustrations of Aussie animals doing fun stuff like skateboarding, bike riding, ninja climbing, parkour etc.
What does your art space look like – organised or chaotic?
It varies, mostly it is chaotic… With paper and sketches everywhere until I work out what I want to do, then I usually get fairly focused and get the job done. I now mostly work from my IPad Pro and then do high detail work on my 27in Cintiq.
What are your top tips for aspiring illustrators? Have you received a valuable piece of advice, and from who?
My top tip for aspiring illustrators is to stay true to themselves, don’t try to do every style they see in books or on the web… Find one or two artists you like the style of and try to emulate the features of that style that resonate with you (not meant as a direct copy) more of a study in how they achieve a certain look or feel in their art that you want to add to your own style.
Secondly I would make a point of it is OK to be messy, no one – (even the most gifted illustrators) can draw a perfect full rendered piece of art the first time. The more you let go in the early stage, be loose, be messy, the more creativity you get and sometimes your best piece will result from an accidental line or composition.
I would say the best advice I ever heard (was from a podcast on Pencil Kings) was
‘You only get BETTER by DOING!’ – That is my motto
What else do you love to do besides art? Anything unusual?!
Love spending time with my kids… listening to how they interpret the world, playing rhyming games, making up stories with them, drawing with them you know typical doting dad stuff.
My world pretty much revolves around my kids – and writing / illustrating stories.
Thanks for posing for our ‘Just Picture This Illustrator’ Interview! 🙂
When not wrestling wild BUNYIPS in the Australian bush, Matt B spends his time writing and illustrating children’s books. Matt B is passionate about encouraging kids to become lifelong readers. Introducing children to the magic, joy and wonderment of books through visual narrative, engaging characters and his unique writing style. A welcomed keynote speaker and guest at schools and kids lit events, Matt B supercharges children’s creativity through storytelling and his foundational approach to the illustration process. Matt’s books include ‘Monsters in My Garden’, ‘Dun Dun did it’, and most recently, ‘A Killer Whale can’t eat Kale!’. He has been featured in Pencil Kings, Newspapers, Magazines, Podcasts and the ABC radio as well as delivering numerous workshops on Kids Lit and Illustration for adults and kids alike.
Matt B lives, breathes and creates in Queensland, Australia with his wife and two amazingly creative kids.
Contact Matt B at firstname.lastname@example.org.